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French Version

Syrian judge grants bail to dissident writer five months after arrest

A Syrian judge has granted bail to dissident writer Michel Kilo five months after his arrest for circulating a petition urging full normalization of relations with Lebanon, a fellow dissident said Thursday.

"Judge Halima Haitar took the decision to release Michel Kilo on bail of 1,000 Syrian pounds [$20]," said Hassan Abdel-Azim, leader of the Democratic Arab Socialist Union.

"He will be with his family this evening," he said.

Mohammad Hosni, president of Sawasieh, a human rights organization, confirmed that procedures were under way for Kilo to leave Adra jail just north of Damascus.

The 57-year-old writer and human rights activist was one of 10 dissidents detained in May after signing a petition calling on the Syrian government to establish diplomatic relations with Lebanon and demarcate their common border. All are now at liberty except human rights lawyer Anwar al-Bunni.

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the granting of bail to Kilo was a "step in the right direction," but called for the "immediate release of all prisoners of conscience."

Well-known for his political analyses, Kilo's writings frequently appear in Lebanese newspapers, including the leading anti-Syrian An-Nahar daily.

The arrests were an apparent attempt by the government to reassert its authority after a turbulent year.

Amman,10 24 2006
The Daily Star
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